The ketchup conundrum

May 16, 2014 09:10 pm | Updated 09:10 pm IST - chennai

In the world of condiments, ketchup plays the role of a sweetheart. Transforming from its origin as a fish sauce into today's glossy tomato-based topping, ketchup has earned its rightful place on dinner tables and condiment stations worldwide. We often use it over comfort foods ranging from French fries to our salads even! But how much do you really know about ketchup?

Yes, it contains tomatoes, but it won’t help your diet. Typically, one-fourth of a bottle of ketchup is made of high fructose corn syrup. This can wreak havoc with your blood sugar and add hidden calories.

The cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene is present in abundance only in fresh tomatoes; the processed and non-organic tomatoes used in ketchup might only have traces of the antioxidant.

High salt content is another culprit - apart from water retention, excessive sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure as well as damage to arterial walls resulting in cardiovascular diseases, strokes or heart attacks.

The good news is that tasty condiments don’t have to be terrible for you. It’s easy to get the sweetness, creaminess or tanginess you crave with the least possible calories and without the risk of harming your body. If you can’t live without ketchup, try making your own with this simple recipe.


150 gm tomato paste

1/3 cup boiling water (Approx 80ml) 

2 tbsp cider vinegar

2 dried figs or dates, coarsely chopped

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 tsp dry mustard powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground allspice or pepper

120 ml water


1. Mix tomato paste, 1/3 cup boiling water, vinegar, and figs and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to soften the figs. Puree in blender/mixer until smooth; scrape down the sides a few times to make sure the figs are incorporated. Leave it aside.

2. Heat a small saucepan over a medium-high flame. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt; this takes about 2 minutes. Add the mustard, cinnamon, clove, and allspice/pepper powders to pan and stir until fragrant. This takes about 30 seconds.

3. Remove pan from the heat, add the previously prepared tomato puree and stir until combined. Return to heat and cook for two to three minutes. Add the 120 ml of water, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. 

4. Cool the ketchup to room temperature before consuming. Store in an airtight glass container; refrigerated, it will last for a couple of weeks.

Note: The ketchup will thicken as it cools, but if you like it thicker, allow it to cook slightly longer. Want it thinner? Add a bit of water.


4 tbsp of commercial ketchup contains your sodium needs for the entire day

1 tbsp of commercial ketchup typically contains 4 gm of sugar

Vivek is a certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Specialist. He simplifies nutrition, exercise and weight loss at > . Find him on Facebook at >

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